Do your children spend most of their free time playing video games?

Are you worried it might put a damper on their educational skills?

Well, a new study shows that both boys and girls who play video games tend to be more creative, regardless of whether the games are violent or nonviolent.

The study led by psychology professor Linda Jackson of Michigan State University and colleagues evaluating nearly 500, 12-year-olds, found that the more kids played video games, the more creative they were in task such as drawing pictures and writing stories.

According to the Entertainment Software Association about 72 percent of U.S. households play video or computer games.

Jackson said that the study appears to be the first evidence-based demonstration of a relationship between technology use and creativity.

The MSU findings should motivate game designers to identify the aspects of video game activity that are responsible for the creative effects, Jackson said.

"Once they do that, video games can be designed to optimize the development of creativity while retaining their entertainment values such that a new generation of video games will blur the distinction between education and entertainment," Jackson said.

The research surveyed 491 middle-school students as part of MSU’s Children and Technology Project, funded by the National Service Foundation. The project assessed how often the students used different forms of technology and gauged their creativity using the Torrance Test of Creativity-Figural.

The test involved tasks such as drawing an “interesting and exciting” picture from a curved shape, giving the picture a title and then writing a story about it.

The overall study found that boys played video games more than girls, and that they favored games of violence and sports while girls favored games involving interaction with others, human or nonhuman.

Regardless of gender, race, or type of game played, the greater the video game playing the greater the creativity.

Parents may not need to worry so much, but only if it doesn’t get in the way of schoolwork.